How do you know when you’re creatively starved? What does that even look or feel like?
If I’m being honest, I didn’t know I was creatively starved until I picked up my pen and wrote my first poem after twenty years of artistic silence. I had forgotten what the rush of creation felt like. Transforming a mental image into black-and-white words on paper felt like nothing short of magic.
I was free to speak from a place in myself I had kept hidden for so long.
The problem with being creatively starved is that we don’t realize what dire straits we are in. We’ve quieted our inner artist for so long, we’ve forgotten the thrill that drives us to create in the first place.
We long to feel refreshed, to discover hidden dimensions of ourselves, or simply to escape the humdrum and explore the fertile realm of our imaginations.
But we haven’t given our inner artist permission to do so.
We weren’t all born to be artists.
That’s the lie I fed my creative psyche for years when in reality, I had plenty I wanted to say and virtually no way of saying it. The pen in my mind’s eye wasn’t frozen to the page. It was packed away in a dark, dusty drawer with a lock to which I’d buried the key.
I need more. This can’t be all there is to life.
The words beat a daily refrain in my head and all the while, my inner artist languished, waiting for me to unearth the key from beneath the mountain of fear I’d heaped on top of it. Creative starvation feels like hollowness, and at times, abject helplessness.
At its core, creative starvation is fear. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of self-expression. Fear of facing the deepest, darkest, most untapped places inside ourselves and exposing them to the light of our awareness.
In order to be creative, we have to face our fears.
Our most painful losses. Our toughest memories. The hardest experiences of our lives will surface as we open ourselves to our creative impulses and if we aren’t prepared to handle them emotionally, mentally, and physically, they will threaten to silence our inner artist again.
I’d love to share with you a few techniques that have kept me grounded whenever I feel myself starting to drift from a creative mindset. This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Think of them as helpful suggestions on how to tune in when your inner artist taps your shoulder, hoping to grab your attention.
- Mindfulness/meditation. It is no coincidence that shortly after I began practicing yoga, I started writing. The practice of meditation silences the fragmented, haphazard thinking that runs at full blast most of our waking lives, holding us hostage to fast-paced schedules and overwhelming amounts of technological distraction. It allows us to tune in to what our inner artist may be trying to tell or show us, without all the static of everyday life interfering.
- Indulge in hobbies you love that refresh you. I dabbled in a number of creative pursuits (painting, crochet, sketching) before I returned to my writing. Giving my right brain space to play was important. It was all part of the process of coaxing my inner artist out of hiding.
- Travel outside your comfort zone. A trip to the mountains inspired my first poem four years ago. If travel isn’t possible for you, there is always someplace new to explore in your hometown. Go to a park you’ve never been to or visit a new coffee shop you’ve been meaning to try.
- Don’t overthink or critique your first efforts. Have fun. Your inner critic will always be your harshest judge. Don’t give him/her air time in your mind. You are setting aside time to spend with your inner artist just as you would with a cherished friend or family member – no party poopers allowed!
- Surround yourself with believers. This one’s super important. When you are first in creative recovery, your artistic skin is very thin. Make sure you cultivate relationships with others who believe in you, even on the bad days. They may be few and far between, but they are your creative support system. Choose wisely and let them know how much you appreciate them.
I hope you enjoyed this post! I have so much more I want to share with you about cultivating creativity in your life, so stay tuned. Feel free me to drop me a line with any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you!